National Statement to COP 17: DURBAN

  • Tim Groser
International Climate Change Negotiations

Madam President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to acknowledge and thank our gracious hosts South Africa and assure the Parties present that New Zealand is, as always, committed to playing a constructive role in these negotiations.

Having accepted a responsibility target under the Kyoto Protocol CP1 we are on track to meet our commitments and no matter what the outcome here in Durban New Zealand's mitigation efforts will continue post-2012.

New Zealand faces a real challenge with half of our emissions coming from agriculture but we have implemented an all sectors and all gases emissions trading system which is a first for a developed country and we are already seeing the benefits of reduced domestic emission levels.

In the international sphere, we believe the reform of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels holds significant mitigation potential, and deserves to be higher up the climate change agenda. That is why we are working hard to raise the profile of this important missing piece of the climate change debate.

Neither can the world ignore the crucial question of how we feed a growing global population without adding to emissions and the problems of climate change. That's why in June this year New Zealand was pleased to officially launch the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and we welcome the 31 other countries who have joined us.

New Zealand is by any standards a small developed country with the emission profile of a developing country yet we remain determined to do our fair share in addressing climate change.

We also take seriously our responsibility to assist our Pacific Island neighbours who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. That is why we have focused our financial assistance on the Pacific and are investing in a number of climate change-related projects, including a major focus on renewable energy. Our fast start finance spend has already reached $25 million.

Following on from Cancun, the work we are doing here in Durban represents a further step forward. We are entering a transitional phase before securing a comprehensive international agreement. During that transition we know that many Parties are continuing their mitigation action. This phase must not be considered a vacuum.

We must all work collectively to ensure that negotiations here in Durban not only define the longer-term goal but set us on the appropriate pathway to achieving it.

New Zealand remains focused on the common objective of a comprehensive agreement with realistic emission-reduction commitments. We recognise however that an agreement that only applies to 15% or less of global emissions will never address the problems of climate change.

It is imperative therefore that any future agreement involves all developed, advanced and major emitting developing countries.

Only with such a comprehensive agreement will we be able to make a real difference.

Thank you.